I've always had a hard time with edging/borders. The instructions always say to cut a slot with a spade and tap the edging in. That newver works.
This past week, I installed edging along both sides of a path I was renovating and around a new hosta bed. It may be obvious, but I want to share what I learned.
Digging a slot in the ground is hard. But getting edging into that slot is harder. I tried my old standard way at first and then gave up to think about it more.
I wanted the edging to stay upright of course, but I also wanted it at a decent depth. I also wanted the height to be uniform. Obviously, digging a whole trench would be the most certain way, but I found another that worked:
I dug the edging line with my spade, which was oddly difficult. It was harder to pull the spade out that it was to drive it in. But when I had the whole line cut with the spade, I decided to dig a 45 degree angle cut about 4 inches away. After I did that, it was easy to pop the cut soil up with the spade (I tried a rake and then a mattock, but those didn't work very well).
I wanted a 1" reveal on the edging, so I used a 12" long piece of wood that I planed to a real 1". That allowed me to use it as a guage to hold the edging the correct height as I back filled with the removed soil.
I went along the edging placed in the "V" trench and pushed soil under it where needed to support the height and then walked carefully along both sides to tamp the soil in place.
Wow! What a difference from the attempts of past years!
I laid down a cut landscape fabric to fit the path and set my steppingstones in place. Then I spread pea gravel over it and spread it out evenly to match the stepping stone height.
The other edging was around the 40' x 8' hosta garden. It took 2 days, but I got a very straight and upright edging just high enough for the amount of mulch the hostas will enjoy.
For what it is worth, I seemed to get a straighter edge turning the spade backwards (front side toward me).
I'm exhausted but greatly pleased! It sure worked better this way than the older edgings I've put in pounded it a slot.